Vickie A. Mike
2010 Hall of Fame Nominee
Horseheads School District
2010 Finalist from NECTFL
“Learning language and culture has personal, cultural, and educational value. Learning language and culture opens minds and opens hearts. Learning another language is transformational. The study of another language transforms the personal and the professional self. It changes our way about thinking about the world as well as the way we think about ourselves. The process of learning another language teaches us as much about our own language and culture as it does about another language and culture.
The underlying value in learning a second language and culture is preparing world citizens to be contributing members of a global society. Without the study of another language and culture we deny ourselves the necessary skills for living, working, and participating in our diverse global society. Learning another language and culture enables us to better understand ourselves and own language and culture. Language learning also provides us with a more global perspective of the world.
My basic belief is that there is value in learning and studying all disciplines. No one discipline is more or less valuable that another. Furthermore, if in schooling we do not offer opportunities to study all discipline areas, from the beginning, we establish yet another inequity, yet another gap, in the education of our children.
When I began teaching Spanish, and even when I was a student, the study of a foreign language was not a requirement for all students. The study of another language was an elective that was not offered until junior high school, and only then, did some students elect to study another language. Foreign language study was considered ‘fluff’and only an elite few opted to study another language. Now, thirty years later, yes, in my state, the study of a language other than English is a requirement for all students. However, the requirement does not begin until middle school, with a one to three year minimum requirement. Can you imagine our children beginning school and not studying mathematics, science, or social studies, for the first time, until grade seven or eight? Or having to study mathematics, science, or social studies, for only one or two or three years out of their entire twelve years? Of course not! There has never been any doubt about if and when to begin and continue instruction in the mathematics, sciences, and social studies. Including the study of another language and culture as part of the core curriculum contributes to the intellectual development of our students.
Equality in education includes all disciplines. Therein is the true value of learning another language and culture. Excluding the opportunity to learn another language devalues education and limits the access to global opportunities and careers our students will have in the future. Learning must include all disciplines: foreign language, history, art, music, technology, mathematics, and science. An inclusive and comprehensive curriculum includes opportunities in all areas, from the beginning. Anything less is a reflection of inequality in education.”